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Innovative Surgery Could Change Utah Girl’s Life

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Playing independently is something most kids take for granted. But one little girl fights for every step she takes. An innovative medical procedure could change her life.

Childhood is all about imagination, and there’s no shortage of that with 4-year-old Bailey Wilson.

Bailey Wilson was born prematurely and had major complications. Her spastic diplegia cerebral palsy causes severe tightness and muscle spasms in her legs.

She was born 13 weeks early.

“She got down to 1 pound, 8 ounces the first two or three days after she was born,” said Catrina Wilson, Bailey’s mother.

Bailey had major complications.

“So crazy. She had the sweetest little cry.”

Bailey has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. But that doesn’t stop her.

“Her dream is to dance one day,” Wilson said.

Bailey Wilson has always dreamed of dancing, though she can’t walk or stand on her own. An innovative surgery could make her dreams come true.

As she looks forward to starting kindergarten next year, Bailey wants to play like other kids.

“It certainly doesn’t stop her from trying,” Wilson said.

Her condition causes extreme rightness or spasticity in her legs, and pain.

“It makes it very difficult for her to walk or for her to stand of for her to run and do the kind of things that kids her age normally do,” Wilson said. “She’s able to crawl, but she does wear braces on her legs, which makes that kind of difficult. She can walk if she’s holding onto the wall or if she’s holding on to your hand, or if she’s holding on to her walker, but she’s not able to stand independently.”

From her first steps, her grit and determination has come in handy. She gets around, but it’s not easy.

Bailey Wilson, age 4, “dances” with her father as best she can. She can’t use her legs like other kids her age.

“When she gets frustrated and she just can’t do it like somebody can, she cries, you know, and it’s really hard to watch,” Wilson said.

A surgery could make all the difference. It’s called selective dorsal rhizotomy, or SDR. Bailey will travel to St. Louis to have it done. Children go to St Louis Children’s Hospital from all over the world, where they’ve been doing SDR since 1990. Here’s how it works. A surgeon stimulates spinal nerves electrically to see which ones cause muscle tightness, and cut them, improving gait and movement.

“This is the most unique kind of treatment in modernity,” said T.S. Park, M.D., a surgeon with St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “If you look at the improvement in quality of life for the children and the families, it’s absolutely great.”

As she looks forward to starting kindergarten next year, Bailey Wilson, of Cottonwood Heights, wants to play like other kids. A surgery in St. Louis might make that possible.

For now, though Bailey’s childhood may not be carefree, she keeps going.

“Just to see her on the sidelines and see her wanting it so badly, it just makes my heart burst to think of what it’s going to be like for her when she’s finally able to do that,” Wilson said.

If luck and a surgeon’s skill match even half her will, a little girl’s dream might just come true.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with surgery expenses.

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